Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Damn, my guinea pigs are spoiled. I just fed them some pellets but they're still squealing. If they don't get romaine or tomatoes they bitch like they're dying.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Damn, my left earlobe is swollen, I have to get piggie food, I have to clean my bird cage, and I don't feel like leaving the apartment. Sometimes it doesn't pay to get out of bed.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

And just in case you were wondering what I'm listening to:

Boku wa ongaku ka
Dentaku katate ni
Tashi tari
Hii tari
Sosa shite
Sakkyoku suru
Kono botan oseba
Ongaku kanaderu

One more story, while I’m in the mood. My close friend J is finishing his under-graduate work at UNLV this term and leaving to study in Russia soon, so we want to get in as much time together as we can. I’ve known him since 1998 and he’s one of my closest companions. He wanted to cook some perogies and watch a DVD, perhaps have some wine. Sunflower Market was out of perogies so he got a feta-spinach quiche, a baguette, and some Beaujolais. That boy knows how to get in my pants quick. We put the quiche in the oven, opened the Beaujolais and started watching Sideways. I don’t watch much contemporary cinema, but this film is a treat.

The week before, I was at J’s mother’s house for a meeting of the philosophy club. A beautiful Austrian woman was there, engaging us all in discussion. She asked me what films I watch. Of course I go down the list of silent German Expressionist and experimental Russian pieces that I love so much, but she challenges me to name something I’ve like that’s been made in the last five years. It takes me a few moments, but I remember that I just went to see 2046 and Grizzly Man and actually liked those.

It’s better that the store was out of perogies, my sink is clogged and avoiding dishes is for the best right now. The landlord brought over some professional cleaner after the Drain-o I got didn’t do the job. He’ll call a plumber if that doesn’t work. The quiche comes in its own pan, no oil or frying, just a little time in the oven. The film happens to be about a wine lover, so we have to talk about the Beaujolais some. It becomes spicier as it airs out; we pretentiously describe the flavor as if we know what we’re talking about.

The film is wonderful; I’m surprised. Then again, J is the man that gave me my copy of Begotten. He’s one of the few people I really get along with, even if we don’t have much time to connect.

Okay so you have three stories; the mountain, babysitting, and Beaujolais. I hope that’ll keep for a few days; while I make some more stories happen.
Okay, I have some energy so I should recount a few more vignettes. Let’s start with babysitting. My honey needed some help with childcare for her twins and, since I’m unemployed, I thought it would be nice for me to help out and watch the little ones for a day so she could get some work done. It started out badly; I forgot what day it was and showed up on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. She was still happy to see me, of course. Instead, I went to Cheers and hung out with one of the bartenders that was off-duty. He bought me a few drinks (I tip well) and we played pool, talking about the Marine Corps, losing our virginity, and music. I got rather hammered then bussed home. She came over that night with the car so I didn’t have to bus again the next day. She was substitute teaching at a high school that was far away (and far from the bus line) and wouldn’t have the car so we had to leave my apartment very early. I brought my sleeping bag so I could sleep on the couch (it’s a long story) while she left and the children slept. Their father woke up (like I said, it’s a long story) at around 8:30 and the kids got up a little while later. Their father and I chatted for a few moments before he headed to work. I made sure I had work phone numbers and a meal plan. Well, by “meal plan” I mean “the kids will tell you when they’re hungry and what they want.” I still make it a point to ask the children if they’re hungry or if they need anything once an hour or so, just in case. They don’t need much supervision through the day unless they want to go outside. They know what channels have cartoons and only need minimal help getting to kid-friendly gaming sites online. There’s also a console game that the boy likes to play. I only have to referee if the girl wants a turn on something the boy is using. He listens when I tell him his turn is up, but sometimes pouts. I was taken aback at first, but it’s easy enough to deal with a pouting child; threaten the dread “time out” or a forced nap. As much as I despise the world outside, they insist on some play time. I allow them to take some toys and remind them to not wander too far. They already know the rules; they stay within my eyesight while I [although I shouldn’t in front of the kids] have a clove off to the side, far enough away that they won’t breathe in the smoke but close enough that I can be there if they hurt themselves or need anything. I let them stay outside for about an hour. I think that’s long enough, but they still wanted to be with their friends and jump up and down and make noise; all the things they can’t do inside. Feeding them was no chore. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cereal, juice, milk; children have simple appetites. For the most part, I lounged on the love seat, glancing at the computer screen and television to make sure they weren’t getting into anything they shouldn’t. They didn’t. I’m not sure what my great fear is; after all they’re just small people, glorious and beautiful as anything.

So far I’ve come by a second time to watch them, but I only have one story to tell of that adventure. My honey had come home and we were hanging out for a little while before I took the bus home. Her daughter likes close attention and was sitting on the couch between us, holding on to her mother [she holds on to me sometimes as well.] I casually started to quiz her on body parts. She identified her eyes, ears, and nose. I start to get more challenging; asking her the parts of the sole of her foot. I show her where the ball and flat of the foot are; I think she knew the heel already. I ask her where the ball of her foot is a half hour later and she remembered. She also remembered forehead, forearm, and the palm of her hand. I feel proud; like I’ve done something positive.

I waited until my honey got home before I had any beer; I didn’t even bring any with me. She’d promised the children some candy if they were good while I watched them so we walked to the store and got them some sweets and I got a few beers. Smiling after drinking those, I took the bus home, promising to watch them next week.
Now for the account of my Mount Charleston trip. After sleeping off the effects of the Bauhaus trip, my friend Chuck says “let’s go camping.” Of all things in the world, can you see me camping? He was leaving right at that moment, so I had to make a snap decision. I said yes without really knowing what I was getting myself in to. I haven’t been camping since I was in 5th grade or so, and then it was under strong protest. Chuck has two friends in from the Midwest someplace and they are used to camping so that’s what the plans are. I grab my sleeping bag and ice chest, hoping my leather jacket will be warm enough but not thinking far enough ahead to check the weather or anything useful like that. We get firewood and some small provisions from a gas station before heading up the mountain. Being such a homebody, I don’t even know where the mountain is. I’ve been to Lake Mead a handful of times with friends, but I don’t really leave this city unless it’s to go to Los Angeles or San Francisco. Okay so I suck, but I went anyway. Packed in the back of a van, we blaze a trail into the nothing. It was almost dark when we found a campground. It was technically closed, but there weren’t any gates or anything so we lit a fire and settled in at over 8000 feet. I had no idea we were going to be up so high or what the effects would be. Of course, I hadn’t eaten. From what I know now, you need to carb up before attempting those sorts of treks. After setting up the tent, we sat around the fire, just chatting for a few hours over some of Chuck’s home brew and some other booze we’d brought along. I started getting really cold and dizzy from the thin atmosphere. My companions talked about their camping in forty-below blizzards and such. “Insane” is all I can think of. In my frozen insanity, I think of my guinea pigs and bird, sitting at home alone in a nice seventy-degree town house. My cell phone only blinks “no signal” at me. I don’t remember going to sleep; but then I seldom do. Waking up, on the other hand, I remember all too clearly. I tried to drink some water, but I just threw it up. Puking is bad enough, but the freezing cold and altitude hammered in the brutality of the world that much more. We gathered some firewood. Firewood? What sort of world am I in? They pass around some bean soup, warmed by the fire. I wouldn’t normally have eaten, but they tell me this super secret that carbohydrates help with altitude sickness. A few bites in my stomach helps tremendously. A Hispanic family gets jostled early by some rangers. The rangers accuse them of setting up an illegal camp ground; the spot they picked wasn’t a part of the regular camp but had been put together long before that family picked the spot. Since the campground is technically closed we’re worried about getting a ticket as well so we make a rapid egress. Dizzy and still somewhat sick, the rapid decent back to the real world is overwhelming. They wanted me to go back today, but I declined. It’s probably even colder.

When I get around to it, I’ll write about my adventures in babysitting for my honey, the clogged sink, and then last night’s adventure in Beaujolais and quiche with an old friend.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I feel tired. It’s been a stressful two weeks. I became unemployed just before Halloween, just before I wanted to go see Bauhaus. I decided to go anyways. It’s a long, stressful drive for someone that doesn’t like being in cars, but I really wanted to go. My friend Ava picked me up in the rental car in the morning and we headed off. She was happy to get away for the weekend. We didn’t yet have a hotel so we had to leave as early as possible. Of course we stopped at the Mad Greek; something of a ritual on my last trips. The falafel was somewhat dry this time, disappointing, but at least the beer hit the spot. Instead of just taking I15 to I10, we took some other route that skirted San Bernardino and most of that gridlocked mess of I10 west. We didn’t hit much traffic until I10 becomes 101, where those murals grace the steep walls surrounding the freeway. I brought along a case full of 80s mix CDs that make the time go by quickly.

Exiting the freeway, we start looking for the Wiltern. It’s an easy target. We have a few hours to find a hotel, and that was also an easy target. We found the Dunes Inn about a mile away from the venue. The man has problems with my ID. It won’t scan and doesn’t light up right under the black light. When he sees my less freaky companion, he lets us get a room anyway. I guess I should know better than to get a hotel in LA wearing a camo bandana, BDUs, a black wife beater, and a leather jacket. He probably thought I was a junky. We unpack and relax for a while. I walk out for some beer. Not the right neighborhood for this, since I have to walk about a mile before I find a supermarket. Grabbing some Newcastle and some cheap bourbon, I head for the line. The woman in front of me is buying some exotic produce and the cashier has trouble ringing it up. “That’s what you get for eating healthy,” I quip. She smiles and, noting my shopping, says “I guess I should know better, I like your plan better.” I should have brought my backpack; carrying a 12 pack a mile can be tiring. I have to enter the hotel through the lobby and the man who’d checked us in sees my haul. He half-smiles and I shrug as I head for the room. We drink some and prepare for the evening. My companion used to work at a make-up counter and does my make-up for me.

She has trouble walking, but I much prefer to walk than drive the mile and pay for parking. The walk really isn’t that bad; I mean she has to walk that far for some classes at UNLV I’m sure. She’d forgotten to print out the Ticketmaster confirmation, but there is no problem at the will-call booth. They didn’t even frisk us. This venue is so much better than the Palladium. It’s beautiful and spacious inside and security is relaxed. There is no opening band, like the time I saw them in ’98, but unlike that time we didn’t have to wait until midnight for them to come on. They are amazing musicians. Two men sitting beside us are over-enthusiastic. They were older than I am but hadn’t managed to see Bauhaus before. I guess I’m lucky that this was my 3rd time seeing them.

After the show lets out, we spill out into the streets with the rest of the mob; like rats leaving a sinking ship I suppose. She’s hungry and we stop at some Chinese restaurant and gets some beef soup or something nasty like that. No kisses for you till you brush your teeth.

The next day, we check out and head for LACMA. She’s from the Palm Springs area but hasn’t made it to many museums. There’s a King Tut exhibit, but after a friend gave it some negative reviews, we decide to skip it and just go to the regular exhibits. I am sad that the sculpture garden is closed, but we still enjoy seeing the outdoor tar pits in the sprawling park surrounding the museum. I show her some of my favorite pieces. “Satan” still sits there; defeated, holding his head in one hand and a broken sword in the other. I think they should devote a whole building to Frida Kahlo. Weeping Coconuts is such an amazing piece. The netsuke and Asian prints are cool since she’s taking an Asian lit class. I give a small lecture about Magdalene with the Smoking Flame to two men. How pretentious can I get? I’d make a decent docent; too bad I’m a poor poet. I wish the Magritte piece was on public view. We don’t go through the whole museum since we still have to drive home, but I think we got most of the important stuff in.

On the drive home, I have something of a panic attack. My stomach knots up and I get dizzy. Did I mention I don’t like being in cars? We get stuck in traffic about halfway home and got to sit still for almost 15 minutes. That wasn’t fun, but we made it.

I’ll write up the next weekend’s trip to Mount Charleston later.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Ugh. Going up Mount Charleston made me kinda sick, just as I was about to give you a nice recount of the Bauhaus show, remarks about job hunting, and spin some on my love life. Maybe tomorrow.

Insert bad joke here.